I work with several inside sales teams who deliver their pitch strictly over the phone. While not a formal presentation, discussing your product, idea or service over the phone still requires the same thoughtful planning, preparation and execution.
There are some additional challenges sellers face when pitching over the phone however, like not being able to see your prospect (and vice versa) or have a deck or visuals to support your message. I’ve compiled 25 of my favorite tips for overcoming those challenges and improving your success rate. What would you add?
25 tips for pitching over the phone
- Find your confidence. Don’t be fooled into thinking they won’t see you sweat. A lack of confidence comes through loud and clear in your voice. For tips on getting into a confident state, click here.
- Dress the part. Flip flops or dress shoes? Which makes you feel more professional and confident? How would you show up in person? How you feel about yourself is strongly reflected in your voice, so choose wisely.
- Visualize your prospect. The more you focus on talking to a unique individual rather than a generic prospect, the more connected your prospect will feel to you.
- Limit background noise. Pets, kids, deliveries, notifications. Shut it all down.
- Keep talking points handy. Just because they can’t see you doesn’t mean they can’t hear you shuffling through your notes.
- Practice. Enough said.
- Record yourself. Listen for both messaging and delivery. But don’t be too hard on yourself. Pick 1-2 things to work on at a time.
- Prepare an outline. You don’t have to use a script, but at least have a pitch flow and memorize key points that you want to ensure land on your listener.
- Prepare questions. Without body language to go by, it’s easy to make a lot of assumptions. Eliminate the guesswork by asking specific questions on a regular basis to gauge interest and comprehension.
- Don’t answer your own questions. It’s tempting but resist the urge. You are training your prospect how you expect them to engage. Answer your own questions and you’ve set a dangerous precedent.
- Speak with punctuation. When you arrive at the end of a sentence, put a period on it and STOP. Yes, silence feels deadly, but if you don’t leave some space in your pitch, you may never really know what you prospect thinks.
- Create a compelling opener. Your opening needs to reassure your prospect that taking your call was a good decision. Prove that by coming up with a short, compelling opening. See 5 Outside-the-Box Opening ideas here.
- Answer “so what?” With so many distractions available to your prospect, you need to constantly relate everything back to how it benefits them.
- Narrow your focus. Don’t try to cover too much. Focus on making a strong impression with 2-3 key ideas rather than a blur of topics.
- Use open-ended questions. A successful pitch is one where the prospect is talking at least half the time. Make it easy for them to engage by feeding them appropriate questions.
- Have a back-up plan. What if you get voice mail at your appointed time? What if the prospect has to cut your call short? You won’t panic if you have a plan.
- Smile. Research proves that a smile can be heard in your voice. But make sure it’s a “real” smile by focusing on something to be happy about.
- Stand. Energy transfers across technology as well. But you have to try harder on the phone. Standing increases your energy and allows your body to fully support your voice.
- Cut to the chase. Don’t spend a lot of time on small talk. Get to what your prospect is really interested in within the first minute.
- Warm-up your voice. So much is riding on the sound, tone and quality of your voice. Make sure yours is at its best when pitching over the phone by getting my Free 7 Minute Power Warm-up here.
- Use your hands. Gestures mean you’re engaged and that will come across to your listener. So buy yourself a good headset so you can gesture freely.
- Show you’re listening. Your prospect can’t see you nodding or smiling, so interject some listening sounds, like, “uh huh, mmmm, right”
- Command the call. You asked for this call, so take charge. Confirm how much time you have, get agreement on the agenda, and park questions that may derail you.
- Summarize often. Summarizing is even more important on the phone without visual support of your message. Try summarizing at the end of every topic, after answering questions, and when you are wrapping up.
- Final piece of advice. Have fun. If you’re not having fun, neither is your prospect. You don’t have to tell jokes, but this shouldn’t feel like a trip to the dentist either.